Copper and Social Complexity: Frederica de Laguna’s Contribution to Our Understanding of the Role of Metals in Native Alaskan Society

H. Kory Cooper


Frederica de Laguna’s archaeological, ethnohistorical, and ethnographic research has provided us a rich record of the importance of metal, especially copper, to Native Alaskans. This paper provides a brief review of some of de Laguna’s thoughts on metal, its use and time of appearance in far northwestern North America. Additionally, this paper provides a discussion of the relationship between copper and Ahtna Athapaskan social complexity. This discussion builds on relevant anthropological work in the region by de Laguna and others and examines this information in conjunction with a more general discussion within archaeology about the relationship between metals and social complexity.

  • H. Kory Cooper, University of Alberta, Department of Anthropology Room 13-15, Tory Building, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G-2H4

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